The only music that ever really engaged me was punk and hardcore. In the eary-80s I neglected paying attention in high school classes in favor of flipping the newsprint pages of Maximum Rock‘n’Roll – the most substantial ‘zine of its time on the punk and hardcore music. Among those pages were ‘scene reports’ that documented shows and bands from around the world. Back then I might not have been able to tell you where Yugoslavia was on a map but I could tell you about some of the bands that sprung from the region. It was, in its way, my guide to geography and hearing loss.
One release from Akina Books, Balkan Pank by Joze Suhadolnik, gives a glimpse into the Balkan punk scene I knew only from a far. Suhadolnik writes: “Actually I wanted to be a comic book artist, but the process of drawing was too slow for me. At the time, in 1979, I discovered Henri Cartier-Bresson and Josef Koudelka. It was a real revelation. Also, I was part of everything that smelt rebellious; the punk movement was an excellent school for a 13 year old wannabe photographer…” That might be the first time for this writer that Cartier-Bresson and Koudelka were mentioned within the context of photographs of punk rock – but why not?
Balkan Pank is less a who’s who of the 80s movement but rather like a tone from the past that hasn’t quite diminished – rather like tinnitus. It is dark and gritty and gives the sense of peering briefly into darkness via photoflash with images of bands, friends, partying, fighting all burned onto your retinas for brief instants.
The design is full bleed and images are sometimes shoved together with dynamic energy – hair and dust left to break the image’s surface and remind you this is a document, much like the ‘zines that allowed a look into the scene in the first place.
If I had a qualm with the book it is too short and I don’t want it to stop. Joze in a short afterword mentions being to over 1600 shows and I wish he shared a bit more to his archive. But on second thought, maybe it is best left like a hardcore song; fast, short, and momentarily out of control.
Balkan Pank was published in March and the first trade and collector’s editions are unfortunately sold out. Keep an eye (or ear) out for a second edition. Meanwhile check out Akina’s other great looking books here but don’t wait too long. Their books sell out QUICK!: AKINA BOOKS
Akina Books, 2013
First edition of 200